The Tragedies of Erythnul
Kestral’s past goes back only a few years before the start of Hope. Outcast from society for reasons unexplained, he traveled the country with a charismatic, but morally-bankrupt ex-mercenary named Cain. The two made a rather healthy living as nomadic con-men, balancing Cain’s deceptively easy-going nature with Kestral’s skill at slight of hand and finesse. They were very successful in this venture, thanks mostly to a set of guidelines they followed carefully, which ensured they kept their plays small, avoided attracting unnecessary attention, and could maintain mutual trust in one another. Despite these guidelines, however, Kestral gradually came to realize that his partner was far more disturbed and dangerous than he had initially thought and, after an escalating series of incidents, was forced to kill Cain in self-defense.
Unfortunately, without Cain’s personability to offset Kestral’s innate mistrust of others and general abrasiveness, he found it much more difficult to survive on his own. Forced to attempt larger, more high-profile, heists in order to make ends meet, he was barely managing to stay out of trouble when King Emman’s scouts found him. Had he not met the rest of the party when he did, he would undoubtedly have ended up in prison.
Initially, Kestral had no intention of getting involved with King Emman’s mission. He had no love of the king, no interest in prophecy, and no real desire for heroics. But fate had larger plans for him and he soon found himself entrenched in adventure regardless. In the early days, he stuck with the party as a way of distancing himself from his last, near disastrous, heist. The incident at Foll nearly drove him away, but something about the plight of the families there resonated with him and he felt obligated to investigate matters. This quest for information drove him on, even after the harrowing events at Spellscale Asylum.
When the rest of the party decided to accompany Chosen One Aellae to another plane, Kestral was prepared to leave the group behind, preferring to remain on the Material Plane and continue research. But, again, fate intervened as an unrelated incident brought several town guards down on the party and everyone was forced to flee using the interplanar travel spell. It was while in the Nemicris Plane that Kestral became inextricably entangled in the mission. Upon arrival, he conspired with ally Kitty in a dangerous ploy to extort information from a deadly and sinister entity known only as the Parasite, to which Kitty played host. The ploy, which was largely a failure, resulted in Kitty’s death and, in his attempts to revive the young man, Kestral became the Parasite’s new host.
After the defeat of Doran and the halting of the Storm, Kestral fell out of contact with the surviving members of the party, save for the occasional visit with Kale. He spent some time traveling, attempting to tie up loose ends in his investigations into the Cult of Doran and the nature of the gods. During this time, he built something of a reputation for himself as a man willing to do the necessary but unpleasant tasks that nobody else wants to do.
Once his leads began to dry up, he decided to stop traveling and used his remaining wealth to open a strategically located inn. He didn’t cater to the normal fare—travelers and tourists—and barely even advertised. The average person, in fact, would assume that his building was deserted. Instead, he relied on various contacts he had established, as well as his underground reputation, to bring prospective clients to him. Of particular interest was anyone with information on the gods. Having run out of ways to track down such people, he instead focused his efforts on bringing them to him.
It was one of these people, nearly two years later, that brought him potentially the most valuable lead of his career—a rumor of a god that had resurfaced—on another plane. After much deliberation, he decided that such a lead, which came from a very trustworthy source, could not be ignored, and made arrangements for interplanar travel. Upon arrival, he found the person of interest in mortal danger and is forced to intervene, lest his effort be in vain. Although he does manage to save the life of the alleged deity, he was captured by local law enforcement in the process and sentenced to life in prison. He spent the next several years incarcerated, before the man he rescued in turn breaks him out and they are able to escape back to the material plane.
Time moves differently between planes. In the years Kestral spent imprisoned, 190 years had passed on the material plane. Kestral and his newfound ally spent the next few years catching up on local history, during which they learned about the aggressive purge of magic in most of the world, growing imbalance between the world nations, and brewing conflicts, both national and spiritual. His new traveling companion, < name redacted >, went into hiding while Kestral himself connected with the underground magical resistance movement and began making personal plans for the inevitable wars to come. He was content to continue his efforts quietly and as invisibly as possible, until he heard of Thorman’s return to the world from an Content Not Found: iorni.
After rescuing Thorman and his compatriots < I forget who was with him >, Kestral and Iorni travel with them for a time during which they discover Ballador is in town and yadda yadda. At first, Kestral chooses not to meet with Ballador, preferring to keep his existence a secret, at least partially due to the fact that he has been considering a way to assassinate the avatar of Pelor, should it become necessary in his plans to mitigate the prophesied war of the gods. However, when Ballador, too, elects to travel with Thorman, Kestral is forced to reveal his presence to his once and again comrade.
Unfortunately, old alliances weren’t the only thing to be rekindled. Ballador’s decision to depart from the Church of Pelor provided an old enemy with a long awaited opportunity. Shortly after beginning their journey to meet with the rest of Thorman’s new party, Nerull, God of the Underworld, ambushed the trio with the intent of settling his centuries-old feud with his once disciple. As Thorman and Ballador fought Nerull’s agents, the god himself captured Kestral, ironically believing him to be one of Pelor-Ballador’s followers.
After an indeterminate time in hell itself, Kestral was rescued from his dark imprisonment by Thorman, who had taken it upon himself to rescue his old friend. Carceri was hard on Kestral—isolating him completely and leaving him to wallow in remembrance of his mistakes and failures. Thorman found the rogue broken, nearly catatonic—plagued by self-doubt, despair, and old, once-buried memories. But with determination and persistence, he was able to revive him enough that the two of them were able to battle their way to freedom. Upon escape, the two were transported to the oasis in Osylith. There they were greeted by a pale man claiming to be the last of the Abhorrents. After a much needed night’s rest, he explained that the oasis had become a nexus of sorts and that he could send the two of them to any other location. Lacking any other options, Thorman resolved to meet back up with the companions he had left, Jhulaer and Balidor, who were beginning their descent to the bottom of Spellscale, to confront the vampire lord Vonerost.